--The Auburn women’s basketball team will look to even its SEC record at 2-2 and keep its winning streak vs. archrival Alabama alive as the Tigers take on the visiting Tide on Thursday evening.
Tipoff is 6 p.m. at Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum as Coach Nell Fortner’s team looks to build on the momentum of a 64-62 overtime road victory over 11th-ranked LSU on Sunday.
“Alabama returns pretty much everyone from last season so they are a good, experienced team,” says Fortner, who notes that all five of the Tide starters are back. “They have a couple of good guards in Varisia Raffington and Ericka Russell and also have a real nice post player in Tierney Jenkins.”
Raffington leads the Tide in scoring at 12.5 points per game.
Auburn has won seven straight games in the series and the only player on the Auburn team who has lost to the Tide is fifth-year senior Keke Carrier, the SEC Player of the Week for her play in road games vs. Florida and LSU. A win by Auburn would set a record for the longest winning streak in the series.
Prior to the current winning streak the longest in the series was seven straight by the Tigers under Coach Joe Ciampi from 1975-79.
Carrier leads Auburn in scoring with 14.4 points per game and in rebounding with 7.9 per contest. The 6-7 senior has helped the Tigers out-rebound SEC teams by a margin of 13.3 per contest.
Keke Carrier is having her best season as a Tiger.
The Tide, 80-68 losers to South Carolina on Sunday, is 0-3 in the conference and 8-8 overall. Auburn is 1-2 in the league and 10-6 overall. Alabama won just one SEC game last season while Auburn won the regular season conference title.
Fortner has a 9-1 record vs. the Tide as head coach of the Tigers. “I always look forward to playing Alabama,” she says. “It’s just such a good rivalry game and the teams get up for it and it’s good for the fans and I’m just looking forward to playing.”
In the last meeting Auburn was an 81-54 winner over the Tide in Tuscaloosa. Earlier last season, the Tigers topped the Tide 84-66 in Auburn.
Alli Smalley is Auburn's only returning starter from last season. She is tied with Carrier for the team scoring lead at 14.4 points per game.
Auburn comes into the game after winning an overtime thriller vs. LSU as junior guard Alli Smalley hit a long-range three to send the game into overtime. That helped the Tigers regain confidence after losing in double overtime at Florida.
“The LSU win was not only a good conference win, getting us back on the winning track, it is just good for your team’s confidence,” Fortner says. “I thought we played at a level that we have not played at in the conference yet and it was good to see us close a game out.
“I think we learned a lot in the Florida loss and it paid off for us in the LSU game,” Fortner adds. “It helped our team see some things more clearly about what we need to, on the floor, both ends of the floor, and I think it helped us become a little better basket ball team.”
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